Greeting lads and ladies! Dow here...years ago I started a quest to find/piece to-gether the right gut-string banjo to replicate that old Ossman twang. Work and life distracted me and I never pursued it. I Bought a no-name antique 11 1/2" archtop pot with a "homemade" neck and I pieced it to-gether and called it a banjo. Well, I'm ready to step it up a little and get the "right" banjo for proper classic picking! I've played bluegrass style for around 15 years, and have several banjos from the genre. I do favor a brighter, twangyer 5 string with plenty of volume, and not the more mellow dull sound. That doesnt necessarily mean I favor steel strings though. A man once told me if I wanted that sort of bright sound with gut strings...to go after a smaller pot banjo, and one that has a metal ring between the head and wood. I prefer a smaller scale neck also, just so I can really reach those hard to get chords...and....my Baldwin nylon string guitar is short scale and I'm used to a short neck. With that, I've been looking at various pony banjos by different makers, and a few different Stewart banjos, specifically the "Amateur", "Stewart Lady" and or "American Princess".  I've talked with Marc about these significantly, and was wondering if anybody else had any input as to how these Stewart banjos play and sound, and if anybody has any recommendations as to where to find beauties like this that are looking for a new home. Maybe one of you kind gentlemen or ladies have an old pony banjo or Stewart short-scale that's not being played quite as much as it ought to be? Well, I have got the gut-string banjo ich again and the flame has been re-kindled. Looking forward to some respectable speculation and discussion here. I am definately not up to par with my classic banjo knowledge, but I'm learning and enjoying every minute of it.  Thanks,

Dow

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If you look at the picture of Ossman's group playing the Morrison banjos (up front of this thread), they both have tie-on ebony tailpieces (look to be inlaid too)...which were very popular at the time. The problem with tailpieces is that they're very easy to change out and banjo players love to mess around with their instruments. Finding one that has its original tailpiece is always a treat!

Some of the "ebony" tailpieces weren't ebony, they were dyed "other-wood" (just like the fingerboard in many cases). Nobody expected them to last a century...and the chemicals in the dye eventually cause the wood to disintegrate; tailpiece gone! I have one like that (from a cheap "Stratton" banjo and it is like a piece of crumbly foam. I'm using it for a pattern...very carefully!

Sometimes you can make a good guess at what was on an instrument by taking a magnifying glass and looking at the wear pattern on the tension hoop where the tailpiece was.

And then, there's the "special order" issue. Most makers would put on whatever you asked for. They bought their tailpieces from a catalog.

So, while I would continue to research the "what was factory original?" question, when it is ready to play, I'd mount whatever is available. Beware the cheezy No-Knot reproductions though. Not that they're bad tailpieces, just that they need prep before using. They usually have a lot of sharp edges which cut soft strings. 

Ha!  That's my old banjo...I'm the one that sold it to Texican...just saw this...LOL.

I bought it myself becuase it was like the one in the Ossman/Glynn photo.....LOL.

Just saw this and thought that it was funny seeing the thread.....

Chris

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